Understanding Tuberculosis (TB)

Understanding Tuberculosis (TB)

Tuberculosis (TB) is a highly infectious disease which caused by bacteria known as  Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This kind of bacteria normally attacks the lungs but can also damage other body organs. Some symptoms of Tuberculosis include:

  • Abnormal weight loss,
  • A bad cough that persists for 3 weeks or longer despite treatment
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excesses fatigue and general body weakness
  • Coughing up mucus or blood
  • Night sweats and fever 

Tuberculosis spreads through the air when a person who is infected talks, coughs or sneezes. Anyone exposed should seek medical attention immediately. X-rays, skin tests and blood tests can help tell if a person is infected with TB. If not treated on time and appropriately, it can be deadly. It is treated by taking several medicines over an extensive period of time.

The chances of getting infected with TB are higher if a person already has a weak immune system. It is for this reason that Tuberculosis is the leading killer of people infected with the HIV virus. According statistics by the World Health Organisation 10.4 million people around the world developed diabetes in 2016 and a whopping 1.7 million succumbed to this dangerous disease.

How to Avoid Dying from Tuberculosis

Just like any other disease, prevention is better than cure. Here is how you can avoid contracting this detrimental ailment:

Try to avoid exposure to infected persons

This is the most obvious precaution to take when it comes to TB. Since it is highly contagious and spread through the air avoiding an infected person is your best bet at remaining TB free. This is particularly critical if a person has already tested positive for what is known as latent tuberculosis (people with latent TB are not infectious but without proper treatment have a 5 to 10 % chance of developing TB). Avoid getting TB specifically by:

  • Not spending too much time with persons who have active TB especially when they have been on treatment for less than 14 days. Avoid spending stuffy and warm rooms in particular
  • In situations where you are forced to be in contact with infected people, for instance if you work in a health care facility that deals with tuberculosis, it I important to take protective measure such as wearing a protective mask at all time to avoid breathing the TB bacteria

Ascertain if you are at a high risk of getting Tuberculosis

Certain groups are more at risk of getting tuberculosis more than others. If you fall into any of these categories, it is advisable to be more vigilant and careful about protecting yourself from exposure. Main groups that are at risk include:

  • Persons living with HIV/ AIDs
  • People involved in the care of TB patients
  • Health care practitioners who are around high-risks patients every day
  • People who reside in confined and crowded places such as prisons, homeless shelters and even nursing homes
  • People with limited access to proper health care
  • People who drink alcohol excessively and abuse drugs
  • People who travel to nations with a high TB rate such as Africa, Latin America and some parts of Asia
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle

You are more susceptible to TB if you have a weakened immune system. A healthy lifestyle can prevent you from getting TBA. It is therefore important to:

  • Consume a healthy and balanced diet that consists of foods rich in nutrients, fiber and proteins
  • Adopt a regular workout regimen
  • Avoid the intake of drugs, smoking and also reduce alcohol intake
  • Sleep for at least 7 to 89 hours every night
  • Maintain good personal hygiene and also keep your environment clean to ensure fresh air

Consider the BCG( Bacille Calmette-Guerin)vaccine if you are at high risk

This vaccine has been proven effective and is used in most nations around the world especially in young children. It is not very common in the United States. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) only recommends the use of this vaccine in a few situations such as:

 

  • In a case where a child tests negative for tuberculosis but will continually be exposed particularly to strains that are drug-resistant
  • Health care workers who are continually exposed
  • People travelling to countries where TB is prevalent

If you already have TB, it is not a death sentence. You can avoid developing a drug-resistant strain by taking the medication as prescribed and adopting a healthier lifestyle that can help strengthen your immune system so that you can fight off the infection. For people living with HIV the best way is to prevent TB is to follow your treatment protocol and keep the viral load down so that your immune system is not too compromised.